Establishment of a serum IgG4 cut-off value for the differential diagnosis of IgG4-related sclerosing cholangitis: A Japanese cohort

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Background and Aim

IgG4-related sclerosing cholangitis (IgG4-SC) must be precisely distinguished from primary sclerosing cholangitis and cholangiocarcinoma (CC) because the treatments are completely different. However, the pathological diagnosis of IgG4-SC is difficult. Therefore, highly specific non-invasive criteria such as serum IgG4 should be established. This study established a cut-off for serum IgG4 to differentiate IgG4-SC from respective controls using serum IgG4 levels measured in Japanese centers.


A total of 344 IgG4-SC patients were enrolled in this study. As controls, 245, 110, and 149 patients with pancreatic cancer, primary sclerosing cholangitis, and CC, respectively, were enrolled. IgG4-SC patients were classified into three groups: type 1 (stenosis only in the lower part of the common bile duct), type 2 (stenosis diffusely distributed throughout the intrahepatic and extrahepatic bile ducts), and types 3 and 4 (stenosis in the hilar hepatic region) with 246, 56, and 42 patients, respectively. Serum IgG4 levels were compared, and the cut-offs were established.


The cut-off obtained from receiver operator characteristic curves showed similar sensitivity and specificity to that of 135 mg/dL when all IgG4-SC and controls were compared. However, a new cut-off value was established when subgroups of IgG4-SC and controls were compared. A cut-off of 182 mg/dL can increase the specificity to 96.6% (4.7% increase) for distinguishing types 3 and 4 IgG4-SC from CC. A cut-off of 207 mg/dL might be useful for completely distinguishing types 3 and 4 IgG4-SC from all CC.


Serum IgG4 is useful for the differential diagnosis of IgG4-SC and controls.

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